Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci


LISA MEZZACAPPA’S BAIT & SWITCH – What Is Known (CF 192)
Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa is a liberal participant in lots of different situations gravitating around new jazz, her recognized “honorary musical godfathers” (Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Sun Ra, Coleman, Ayler, Dolphy, Kirk) constituting the primary source of inspiration for this debut as a boss, particularly in regard to the energy and the focus that those masters have transmitted to Lisa over the years. She was already involved in the “metal jazz” band Go-Go Fightmaster, whose members are a part of this recording: tenor saxophonist Aaron Bennett juxtaposes paradox and hostility in a confrontational style where romanticism is the last memory before dying, guitarist John Finkbeiner is a fissure-filling achiever of impractically skewed lines of exploratory modernity, and drummer Vijay Anderson is proficiently concerned with the guardianship of the pulse, yet he shows the impatience of a percussionist for what’s square, inserting rhythmic traps and shifting accents whenever the occasion calls.

The fact that Mezzacappa produces a cover of Captain Beefheart’s “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” gives the idea of a broadminded approach – you won’t find Van Vliet covered by many people these days. Instead, on “The Cause & Effect Of Emotion & Distance” the whole quartet seems to rise from the ashes of a previous thematic disintegration to turn into a cloud of aromatic scents. In general, the architectures conceived by the leader are characterized by sharp steadiness rooted in contrapuntal verisimilitude. She’s a credible instrumentalist, precise and solid but also able to extract a degree of passion from the most exsiccated, skeletally linear conception. The band’s ability in reciprocally trusting their instant choices and avoiding excesses of discordance is a major plus – everything sounds intelligible (including the tense blowout heard in the title track) and the potentialities of this wise frugality are evident in the acute lucidity defining the entire record.
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